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Jim Kelly
Andre Reed & Jim Kelly. Kelly says he has been diagnosed with cancer in his upper jaw bone and will have surgery on June 7. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

Jim Kelly's Cancer: Teammates Hopeful, Prognosis "Good"

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Teammates of Jim Kelly reacted to the news he has been diagnosed with cancer of the upper jaw as they arrived for the Kelly for Kids golf tournament Monday.

Many noted Kelly's resilience in getting through this.

 "In football terms, he'll be at the bottom of the pile, that's the way he is, and that's why he's been successful,' says former Bills defensive end Phil Hansen.

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Adds ex Bills wide receiver Andre Reed:  "The Kelly family is like family to me. He's got the support and Jim will be ok."

Special team ace Steve Tasker has been in touch with Kelly in recent days.

"He called me a few days ago, and he asked for prayers. He's been struggling with symptoms for six months, but we didn't know it was cancer until the last couple of weeks," notes Tasker.

 "Jim cuts a wide swath, there are a lot of people concerned for him, a lot of people pulling for him. We've been praying for him, and if there's anything our family can do for his, we've told him to let us know," Tasker says.

Hear  Kelly's Remarks 

Read His Statement 

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Cancer Basics
Kelly was diagnosed with cancer of the upper jaw and will have surgery on Friday. Informed of the diagnosis two weeks ago, Kelly called the prognosis for recovery "very good." He said tests show the cancer is isolated to the jaw.

Doctors plan to remove part of Kelly's jaw during an operation at a Buffalo hospital on Friday. It won't be determined until after surgery whether he will require chemotherapy

This is but the latest operation Kelly will have had over the past few years. He's also had surgery to correct back, neck and hernia problems.

Kelly has remained active despite the diagnosis.

He made the announcement at a charity golf tournament for the Kelly for Kids Foundation.  Kelly founded the Foundation in honor of his son, Hunter, who was born with Krabbe disease. Given little more than three years to live, Hunter died at the age of 8 in 2005.

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"It's a very difficult thing to endure, but when you're in the public eye it can be more daunting," says Joel Giambra, former Erie County Executive.

Giambra began a battle with throat cancer just as he took office in 1999.        
AP PhotoDoctors have known for some time that a sexually spread virus can cause some oral cancers. But actor Michael Douglas' comments on his own throat cancer threw a spotlight on the subject Monday.      READ MORE

Head & Neck Cancer Basics : Rare, Survivable But Complex

From the American Cancer Society:

Squamous cell carcinomas

More than 9 of 10 cancers of the oral cavity and oropharynx are squamous cell carcinomas, also called squamous cell cancers. These cancers begin in early forms of squamous cells, which are flat, scale-like cells that normally form the lining of the mouth and throat.

The earliest form of squamous cell cancer is called carcinoma in situ, meaning that the cancer cells are present only in the outer layer of cells called the epithelium. This is different from invasive squamous cell carcinoma, where the cancer cells have grown into deeper layers of the oral cavity or oropharynx.

Verrucous carcinoma

Verrucous carcinoma is a type of squamous cell carcinoma that makes up less than 5% of all oral cancers. It is a low-grade (slow growing) cancer that rarely spreads to other parts of the body, but it can grow deeply into surrounding tissue.

If they are not treated, areas of ordinary squamous cell cancer may develop within some verrucous carcinomas. Some verrucous carcinomas may already have areas of ordinary squamous cell cancer that are not recognized in the biopsy sample. Cells from these areas of squamous cell carcinoma may then spread to other parts of the body.

For all of these reasons, verrucous carcinomas should be removed promptly, along with a wide margin of surrounding normal tissue.

(WBEN) Head and neck cancers -- defined as those that arise in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, salivary glands, throat, or larynx (voice box).- are relatively rare with a range of outcomes depending on where they start and how deep they run. .

They account for 3 to 5 percent of all cancers in the U.S..

This year, an estimated 53,640 people (39,300 men and 14,340 women) will develop head and neck cancers. It is estimated that 11,520 deaths will occur this year from the disease. 

Most begin in the flat squamous cells that make up the thin surface layer (called the epithelium) of the structures in the head and neck, and, if not caught early, can move into the deeper tissues.

"I would never use the word dire. There's wonderful treatments for malignancies  of the head and neck in general," says Dr. Wesley Hicks,  chairman of the head and neck surgery department at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.

" Prognosis for many of these is diseases is excellent,"
  Hicks says.

Kelly's has said he suffers from Squamous cell cancer in his upper jaw bone.

In some cases, these cancers can run deep and be very hard to treat,  like the case of film critic Roger Ebert who ultimately died of it last year.  Ebert's cancer started  in his esophagus & mouth and moved deeper, after having much of his jaw removed.

Kelly says part of his jaw bone will be removed.

"I've been assured that it's pretty much located in one area of my jaw, but it's like anything, once they get in and start cutting cancer away, they figure out how much they have to take,Kelly said Monday.

The treatment plan for an individual patient depends on a number of factors, including the exact location of the tumor, the stage of the cancer, and the person’s age and general health, according to the CDC.

The average age of most people diagnosed with these cancers is 62, but they can occur in young people. They are rare in children, but a little more than one-quarter occur in patients younger than 55, according to the American Cancer Society..

Tobacco use, alcohol use, and human papillomavirus infection are important risk factors for head and neck cancers.


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Earlier Coverage:

Jim KellyBatavia, N.Y. (WBEN/WGR) - Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly is announcing he is battling squamous-cell  cancer of the upper jaw. 

Treatment, prognosis and recovery look encouraging, he says.

Kelly discussed the the diagnosis Monday morning at his annual charity golf tournament


Read Kelly's Statement

 From the US CDC..

Most head and neck cancers begin in the squamous cells that line the moist surfaces inside the head and neck, according to the CDC.

Typical symptoms of head and neck cancers include a lump or sore (for example, in the mouth) that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in the voice.

The treatment plan for an individual patient depends on a number of factors, including the exact location of the tumor, the stage of the cancer, and the person’s age and general health.

Treatment for head and neck cancer can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of treatments

Head and neck cancers account for approximately 3 percent of all cancers in the United States. These cancers are nearly twice as common among men as they are among women.

 Head and neck cancers are also diagnosed more often among people over age 50 than they are among younger people.

Researchers estimated that more than 52,000 men and women in this country would be diagnosed with head and neck cancers in 2012

Here is the statement Kelly released Monday morning:

“This past couple of weeks has been difficult for me and because of the nature of social media I thought it would be best to share with everyone what has been going on with my health.

I was recently diagnosed with Squamous-cell carcinoma (cancer) of the upper jaw bone. I have undergone tests which have shown that the cancer is isolated to my upper jaw and has not spread to other parts of my body. Surgery is scheduled for June 7th and doctors have told me that the prognosis for my recovery is very good.
With the excellent medical care that I will be receiving and the loving care of my wife Jill and my daughters Erin and Camryn and the support of my entire family and friends, I am extremely confident in my road to recovery. I plan to tackle this challenge head on, as we Kelly’s always do, with toughness, perseverance and faith.
I want to thank everyone who has offered their prayers and would appreciate any prayers said for me and my family moving forward. May God continue to bless you and our family.”


Filed Under :  
Locations : Buffalo
People : Andre ReedJim KellyPhil HansenSteve Tasker
06/03/2013 2:22PM
Kelly's Teammates React to Cancer Diagnosis
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06/03/2013 11:16PM
Cancer Smancher!!!
Jim, You have been thru alot and you are a tough nut so you can beat this ! I'll be praying for you and the family. God is bigger than old mr. cancer!!
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